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Phishing Attacks: A Cyber-security Guide for Employers and Individuals

With every cyber-attack, it becomes increasingly clear that no one is safe from data breaches or cyber-extortion. Whether you are an employer that stores proprietary data or an individual with financial and personal information at risk, hackers won’t rest until they have what’s yours. And their tactics continue to evolve.

Cyber-criminals have a variety of tools and techniques at their disposal, including malware, ransomware and disrupted denial-of-service attacks. One of the most common and difficult-to-spot strategies hackers use is phishing scams, which require minimal technical know-how and can be deployed from anywhere in the world via a simple email.

In broad terms, phishing is a method that cyber-criminals use to gather personal information. In these scams, phishers send an email or direct users to fraudulent websites, asking victims to provide sensitive information. These emails and websites are designed to look legitimate and trick individuals into providing credit card numbers, account numbers, passwords, usernames or other sensitive information.

With every opened email, users risk becoming the victim of monetary loss, credit card fraud and identity theft. What’s more, successful phishing attacks oftentimes go unnoticed, which increases the risk of large and continued losses, particularly for businesses.

Even in the face of highly funded cyber-security measures, phishing scams can be financially devastating. In 2017, tech giants Facebook and Google were phished for over £76 million each, proving that protection from online scammers doesn’t come easy—even for large-scale companies.

What’s more, under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), UK organisations are required to implement strict data protection policies for both their customers and employees, or otherwise run the risk of a potential data breach and hefty government fines. In terms of phishing, the GDPR requires organisations use protective measures such as pseudonymisation and encryption to decrease the risk of phishers getting access to sensitive data.

Phishing is becoming more sophisticated by the day, and it’s more important than ever to understand the different types of attacks, how to identify them and preventive measures you can implement to keep yourself safe.

This guide provides readers with a variety of sample phishing emails, which can help you better identify and delete dangerous messages before they do irreversible damage. In addition, you will learn about the common strategies that phishers use to steal your data and ways to keep yourself safe.

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